Closed Captions for Web Video – It’s the Law

On Friday, October 8, 2010, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 was signed into law by President Barack Obama. This new law expands the requirements for web video captioning and accessibility services. More specifically, it requires that any closed-captioned television program be closed captioned when delivered over the Internet. The law also requires all devices capable of displaying video to be able to display closed captions.

Watch Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) comment on the passing of his bill (CC).
WEB FORMATS with Closed Captions

It is easier than ever to caption web videos through YouTube. Not only does YouTube have a speech recognition engine to help transcribe your video, but also an automatic time stamping tool to synchronize an already existing script. If you need the transcription to be perfect it is best to type it out manually in a word processor and upload a .txt file alongside your video to YouTube. This will result in accurate captioning text. However, there are times when you may have a closed captioning file or tape that already has captions but needs to convert to a video that can be uploaded to YouTube. 

Mobile Devices Closed Captioning

The iPhone, iPod, and iPads are by far the most common players for portable video and music media. The Apple devices also support closed captioning in video files hosted on your website. MacCaption software can encode closed caption tracks into QuickTime videos with any pixel resolution. The closed captions can be extracted from a broadcast tape or file, converted from other caption formats, or even created from scratch. Simply add the captions to your existing video files with MacCaption.

iTunes Closed Captioning

iTunes software for Mac and Windows now has the ability to display closed captioning for iTunes videos, including video podcasts and iTunes U. All you have to do is add closed captions to a QuickTime .mov or .m4v file. The closed captioning in these iTunes files are called closed caption tracks for QuickTime. MacCaption can create this CC track quickly and easily by embedding them from any caption document or already captioned video into the QuickTime .mov without re-compression or generation loss. Take existing video podcast archives that you are hosting and add CC to them using MacCaption’s batch processing. 

Flash Closed Captioning

Adobe CS5, Flex, Flow Player, JW Player, Hulu, and Captionate plug-in support closed captioning files for the web. Flash video is like a sea of different custom video players. There are a variety of caption file formats that Flash video can support. They include .srt, DFXP Timed Text .xml, SAMI .smi, Captionate .xml, and embedded .FLV with captions. 

Windows Media Closed Captioning

If you are delivering captioning content to an all-Windows audience then Windows Media closed captioning could be the most compatible option. Windows Media can read the captioning either from a separate SAMI (.smi) file or from an embedded .WMV file with captioning.